THEATER REVIEW: “Three Sisters” @ Living Room Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Gail M. Burns
Photograph by Angus McCullough
The title is the same, but the play, and the playwright, are different. Lucy Caldwell has adapted Anton Chekhov’s 1899 play Three Sisters and set it in her native Belfast, Northern Ireland, during The Troubles of the 1990’s. Olga, Masha and Irina become Orla, Marianne and Erin, and while they live in a different place and time, their experiences are parallel. The Russian sisters long to escape to Moscow, their Irish counterparts dream of going to America. Caldwell has layered her Irish experience over Chekhov’s plot and characters in a deeply satisfying and wholly artistic manner.
Chekhov is a playwright you either connect with and love or cannot fathom and hate. If you fall into the latter camp you probably won’t like this play because Caldwell has created a world that is thoroughly Chekhovian. So much so that, when I have been speaking about this production, I keep referring to Chekhov as the playwright. It is that hard to discern where he leaves off and Caldwell picks up.
And director Christopher McCann, a founding member of Living Room Theatre, has appeared in their previous productions of Chekhov’s other major plays, so this production feels fully Chekhovian. The only thing I felt Caldwell missed was Chekhov’s humor. I usually laugh a lot at a Chekhov play, and while there were laughs here, they were generated more through word play than by the characters and situations.